The Wrightslaw Way

to Special Education Law and Advocacy

The Wrightslaw Way random header image

When Teachers Bully

by Pam Wright

What do we do when our children are bullied by teachers? My son has a teacher who actually calls the kids wieners and makes fun of them if they are struggling. He has a mug and sign in the classroom that say “I see stupid people.”

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. You see it more often in middle school and high school. This teacher is allowed to continue because the principal or superintendent don’t really see the behavior as a problem. How you handle it depends in part on the age of the students.

If elementary school, your strategy needs to be… different than high school. Here is a general strategy. But, it will not be as effective if this is happening in high school – people tend to believe that older kids need to learn how to deal with jerks. Most of us had a few jerks when we were in school. It was viewed as a learning experience.

If you go to this page, you’ll find articles and resources that will help you deal with bullying behavior at school:

Advise the Administrators

Put any issues in writing.  Write a nice polite letter where you advise the principal and superintendent about what is happening (the problem) and what you think should be done about it (your solution).

The tone of your letter should not be complaining but advising them of this problem so they can take action. If you have a copy of our From Emotions to Advocacy book, you will find sample letters in the book that will help you.

Next Step: The School Board

If this doesn’t result in a change and you can’t get the administrators to take responsibility, meet with your school board member and educate him/her. You may want to invite your school board member to have breakfast or lunch with you, then describe the problem. If you take this step, it’s very important that you have documented the problems and your attempts to resolve them in writing.

Make copies of the publication below about Harassment and provide copies to the principal, superintendent, and school board members.

There are some excellent publications from the U. S. Dept of Education and Office of Civil Rights about this issue:

  • An excellent resource for parents, teachers and others who are trying to protect kids is a publication from the Office of Civil Rights, Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools. It includes a section on the definition of harassment based on disability and provides step-by-step guidance for developing a district’s written anti-harassment policy.
  • Free From (ED001366B) Preventing Bullying: A Manual For Schools and Communities. This document addresses the problem of bullying in schools and defines bullying, discusses the seriousness of this behavior and the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach. The Manual presents strategies for teachers, students, and parents to use when dealing with bullying situations. It also provides examples of innovative and successful approaches used by schools in different parts of the country.

Get Support from a Child Psychologist

Get a child psychologist to meet with the person who has power and describe the damage this guy is doing to the children.  Write a follow up letter after the meeting.

However, if this is happening to older high school kids, you are not as likely to get a response that will satisfy you.

When I had jerk teachers, my parents let me know they believed in me, that they agreed the person was a jerk, that the school year would soon be over and I’d be free. The fact that they believed in me, and agreed that the person’s behavior was bad helped because I valued their opinions more than I valued the bad teacher’s opinions (or slogans on coffee cups). They also taught me that there are jerks in the world and I had to learn how to deal with them.

Print Friendly

Tags:   · · 108 Comments

Leave a Reply

108 Comments on "When Teachers Bully"

Notify of

11/04/2015 2:43 pm

My son is having a problem with a teacher that he had last year for Spanish. At semester he switched out of her class to do track and the teacher took it personally and was mad. He is in 11th grade and never had a problem with any teacher. The Spanish teacher retired at the end of last year. He is taking a human relations class, everything was fine with that teacher, he had an A in the class. That teacher made an inappropriate answer to a student about sex and lost her job about 5 weeks ago. The teacher… Read more »

10/26/2015 3:05 pm

Taking steps to stop your child from being bullied by a teacher does not always work. My daughter-in-law went to the school to resolve the issue. That evening, CPS showed up at the house, they where called by someone at the school claiming the child was being molested by the father, in retaliation for making a complaint against the teacher. Now the father has this in a record for the rest of his life even though it was not founded. And was told nothing could be done even if it was unfounded and the call was made out of retaliation.… Read more »

09/15/2015 5:52 pm

My son is 10. He has long hair. His favorite subject is science. Recently we have had to put him into counseling for some self esteem issues over the summer. He is also going to be getting a psycho educational evaluation done to see if he needs extra help in spelling and math. But science he excels. Well his science teacher has been asking him in front of the class if he needs Barrett’s for his hair and embarrassing him. She would not say this to a girl. He now shakes when he goes to her class. I have contacted… Read more »

10/19/2015 11:25 am

Heather, you wrote, “I have contacted the school twice.” How did you contact them? Who did you contact? When you contact the school about a problem like this, you need to put your concerns in writing and request a meeting with a school administrator who has power to cause change.

09/01/2015 5:34 pm

I had a thing as childhood were I would sway side to side when listening to music. I guess it became prevalent that when I was in the first grade my teacher decided it must have been inappropriate or something but I really don’t think it was disruptive since she never really told me to stop so I probably must have went doing it without knowing otherwise I’m sure I would have made an effort to stop even at such an age.

08/21/2015 3:03 am

My son is being bullied by his teacher. He was called a slacker when the only thing that he did was forget his schedule at home. Then the teacher told him that he remembers his name and that him remembering his name is a bad sign. The first incident I told my son and myself to just be patient with the teacher, but this is the second time, and I am no longer letting his teacher’s actions pass without me saying or doing something.

05/19/2015 6:36 pm

My grandson has been bullied for two years by many teachers. They call him a liar, throw his work down on his desk in front of him, tell lies about him. All are working together against him. He cries saying he wants to kill himself and not to go back to school. I’m so afraid they have messed him up for life. He is autistic. He couldn’t explain to us. He has a learning disability. I think they should have cameras in the class room like that, the teachers in that class argue with each other in front of… Read more »

08/26/2015 9:15 am

I have an autistic son as well. It really is much more of a challenge to get information from your child about this bullying. Check out “Teachers who bully”. Amazingly some 45% of teachers admitted to bullying students.Have a face to face meeting with the teacher without your child present and see what their side of the story is. If nothing improves or the principle takes the side of the teacher as they often do then escalate your complaint to the school superintendent and/or the school board. If you want an investigation into the matter at the highest level… Read more »

06/02/2015 2:12 pm

I feel so bad for all of you except Eric. This is what you signed up for. Why make excuses. Quit your teaching job or commit to change things for the better for these unfortunate children being bullied by people whose jobs it is to help. It’s your duty! My son is Autistic, ADD, High Anxiety. He is being bullied by an aide in an “Emotional Support” Classroom.He has had his paper tore because his name was not on it. Repeatedly told to quit acting like a 2 yr. old or he will not have any friends. Repeatedly told he… Read more »

04/01/2015 10:33 pm

My son has been bullied by teachers through his whole schooling. He was humiliated because the teacher thought he was lying about not having a pencil. His IEP is for emotional disturbance, though he has been diagnosed with ADHD but the school will not recognize it. Per the IEP, my son’s behaviors are his choice (hypothesis, avoidance and control) and so they told me that it was proper punishment to humiliate and that would correct the bad behavior. I don’t understand how teachers can think that negative thinking will save the world. Well, most kids, I think, probably end up… Read more »

03/28/2015 5:03 am

It’s hard to run a classroom, teachers do a lot of talking & often get huge amounts grief thrown their way. Emotions can get raw, words can be said that bite more than intended. Not that it’s ok but there’s a learning curve to teaching, & some days are better than others. Personally I’d want to know if I hurt someones feelings so I could apologize. Teachers are isolated unaffected human beings. Often a teacher is assigned an impossible schedule. No excuse but if the school sets you up to fail then then you can’t win.

06/03/2015 7:17 am

Eric their is no excuse for no teacher to bully a child, they should have teachers train enough and enough train aids in the class to help out not mistreating kids and think their never going to get caught its just sick to know anyone would do that.

03/23/2015 4:25 pm

My son who is in 3rd grade (ASD,ADHD, Anxiety) has been bullied by his teacher from the beginning of the yr. I have been documenting it and thought it had stopped when we worked on his new IEP. I was so wrong, it was just a pause. His new IEP was completed in February and it has all started up again as bad if not worse. His anxiety is so high and I can’t get anyone at the school to listen. Most things put in place to help in the classroom in his IEP are not… Read more »

10/10/2015 9:12 pm

Hi Denise, I was just reading your comment and I can totally relate. I am going through a similar situation as well, I wanted to know how everything went for you after talking to the Department of education? Did they help you out? Are u doing home school?

03/19/2015 6:05 pm

My child was going to school ga on 10/28/14 the male teacher physically fraught my child, slam her on the ground injuring her neck and shoulder. he was also sexual harrassing her in schoolrubing on her calling her Bae/ Baby telling her he’s not married and like her not the teacher next door them I press charges on them then that went to press charges on my child in juvenile on my child then the officers tell me I can’t take out a report on the teacher and officers of the law. this school not only abuse my child but… Read more »

03/16/2015 6:22 am

Reading these entries so sad!! This is why our education system is broken no one is listening, watching, caring for our children when we send them off to school. No one will listen to parents because it is all about job security for the school staff. There is no way to protect a child as always ends with the child being called a liar and troublemaker.

03/14/2015 6:57 pm

My son is 12 years old, is in the 6th grade and has ADHD with hypersensitivity. He gets good grades and is very shy. He’s kind and compassionate, doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He is the type of kid all the bully’s would pick on. His problem is that he hates school, and is Very anxious when he is there, to the point where he’s panicking. He didn’t have this problem until starting middle school. He would come home looking stressed out, anxious, exhausted, and sad. I could tell he had been crying at some point… Read more »

03/12/2015 12:38 am

We have a BULLY Situation NATIONWIDE. Something has to be done!!!

Parents need to Unite

03/09/2015 3:58 am

My science teacher asked everyone to put there hand up if they don’t like me or if they don’t like me because i swing on my chair etc. I don’t even know what i did! It was very humiliating and i had to hide my tears for less embarrassment. He was laughing and everything. It happened at the beginning of the day so i was left feeling terrible for the rest of the day. I hate him.

03/06/2015 6:32 pm

My children’s principal had her kids taken away by DFS and now since she is running a school, me and my kids wrestle an goof off and if they happen to have one little bruise on them she calls DFS on me. How is it right a principal can ask your child over a hundred questions about what goes on at home….It kind of scares my kids that she always asks them stuff about their personal life. What can I do about this?

03/04/2015 12:13 pm

Children do not go to school to be bullied and Harassed by their teacher. This is a Kid That makes Bs in this class and the teacher still bullies the child, what do you do about that?

02/21/2015 9:40 pm

I need help with reporting that my 2girls were Sexually Hurt everyday since school had started and the it happened at school. Another child had hurt them while older children just watch! I had no idea until finally they had a mental break down! Well at the beginning of school I had talked to the principal and bus driver that there were some kissing going on and of course they blamed it on my child. It has came out in the wash this other child has been Sexually physically molesting my girl! Both my girls has told principal and bus… Read more »

02/17/2015 1:24 pm

Is there a rule that requires anonymity of special ed. students?

01/30/2015 7:08 pm

I am from a small town and everybody knows everybody and their business. My son has been harassed by a teacher in 9th grade. The teacher called him “Lazy.”…When my son told me this, I went straight to the school and talked to the vice-principal.. I told the vice-principal there was no justification for this teacher to call my son lazy! He was making Straight A’s in this teacher’s class. I had a meeting with the principal, teacher, and counselor. The teacher had the nerve to point his finger in my face during our conversation. I don’t understand… Read more »

01/30/2015 3:19 am

I am from a small town in Texas & we have a huge problem! Our Elem/Jr High principal is a narcissistic bully to students, parents & even teachers & other school employees. It has been going on for the last 7-8 years. Complaints after complaints have been made all resulting in hitting a brick wall followed by retaliation usually against the student. Many parents have transferred their children out of district. Why has nothing been done? For starters the district superintendent is the principal’s husband, and then to top it off she is in outside business ventures with the president… Read more »

01/29/2015 8:12 am

My daughter and her friend quit choir with permission of the choir teacher. 4 weeks later the choir teacher meets with my daughter’s home room teacher. They both proceed to say, in front of the class, “we have two dishonest kids in the class room.” The choir teacher takes my daughter and her friend and makes them stand in front of the other students stating they r dishonest and they have to stand there through choir practice.

01/24/2015 10:59 pm

I can relate in so many ways. I got abused really bad in the state of Mississippi by my principal at the age of 5,and every since than it damaged me in so many ways. Ive been trying to get an attorney, no one seems to help. im 23 now and its so many things I can say. But ill say this if anyone can stop abuse from teachers,principals etc from damaging this people we would greatly appreciate it. Lets stand up and stop the abuse.

12/14/2014 12:23 pm

My son who now is 15 has been bullied by teachers since 7th grade.Because of this,he learned to lash out.To make a long story,he is being bullied til this day by teachers.He was diagnosed with an explosive disorder.Having this labeled on him,teachers feel to be on guard.He is on IEP which the school isnt complying with.Because the school does not want to deal with him,he missed all of 8th grade and passed him anyway.Once up at the high school because he missed so much of school,he was supposed to stay back in 9th.They passed him anyway.He is so behind and… Read more »

12/05/2014 1:09 am

I am being humiliated by my Principal who joined just 5-6 months ago! She always calls me in her office and says the things which make me cry, And when i start crying, She say’s rudely that stop these fake tears. She calls my dad to school on everything and says bad about me to him. I said her that i can’t attend the extra classes due to transport problem, because the driver of the van is not good and i can’t go alone with him bcuz it’s not safe, but she’s still forcing me to stay in the extra… Read more »

Concerned Student
11/27/2014 4:53 am

I am in HS and my math teacher is discussing my 504 plan in class in the presence of other students. I am mortified by this. My mom has asked her to stop, but she seems to want to humiliate me. At the end of one of our last tests, she announced to the class that everyone needed to put their pencils down, their time was up, but the students with 504s and IEPs would be receiving more time. Other teachers never say this. She acknowledged saying these things to a VPrinc. and said that she was “not required to… Read more »

11/19/2014 9:27 pm

I am in ninth grade and my spanish teacher is rude. She made me stay after class one to talk to me and she would not give me a pass to my next class; I was late to it. She said that i do not do my work and i do (I have an A in the class). She said to do my work or else. Also, recently I got one answer wrong in class (normally I get them right) and she said that I do not study and that I need to study and do my work, to the… Read more »

11/18/2014 11:05 pm

Hi, I am in middle school, but my math teacher is very rude. She has thrown things at me (Pencils, computer mouses, etc). Yet, no matter how many times I tell her, the other teachers, my parents, principals, superintendents, etc, They say, “Oh, you are just trying to get out of class”. My school even has a police officer that works there, and even he REFUSES to help me. What’s even worse is that it is only me and one of my friends that she does this to.

11/06/2014 4:03 pm

I was bullied by my college externship professor. what can i do or who can i turn to? 8 staff members of the hospital that i externed at wrote a letter acknowledging that I did a great job and that I was in fact bullied by this professor. I gave the letter to my program director as well as the Dean of the school and it was tossed aside and nothing was ever followed up on. What can I do?

10/14/2014 2:58 pm

Hi I’m Danny. My case is the principal is the (BULLY) so I can’t wright a letter to the principal. My son is 11 y/o, just today suspended for 3 days. My son & 3 others had a little food fight in the lunch room, the other 3 got off but not my son. He was called stupid librarian & the principal and other things. He also last week got suspended. He was in argument with another student, the kid hit him in the eye. I brought my son the next day to talk to the principal. He suspended MY… Read more »

09/21/2014 6:11 pm

My son was 3 years old and was violently physically abused by his teacher ( kindergarten) on more than one occasion. Since we only had his word no one would take the case. The other teacher in the classroom first stated she saw the abuse happen to my son but then later recanted her story. This teacher gets away with hurting my son on multiple occasions and I live with this every day. We are still in the same county so we are treated as criminals by the school we attend. I don’t get to go on field trips… Read more »

09/19/2014 8:22 pm

My kids went from a school made in heaven to one whose entire staff were the spawn of Satan! The inmates were running the asylum. The woman on the front desk only acknowledged you if you brought food or cussed louder than the students passing through. The sixth grade teacher stressed my child to the point of sleeplessness and physical illness. Now my other child has one (an English teacher) who won’t pronounce students names (mine in particular) or allow them to participate in class activities. When I met with her she wouldn’t allow my child to complete a sentence… Read more »

09/18/2014 10:15 am

I am so frustrated with school. I have contacted the school counseler, principal, and superintendents office. The teacher happens to be the daughter of someone on school board. The teacher has openly admitted to me in email of ostracizing my son. This was the point I talked with superintendents office which sent me back the principal. I feel like every step I take to get my son not to be bullied by his teacher, she takes it out on him more by saying he’s doing things wrong in class which he swears he doesn’t do wrong. I am… Read more »

08/04/2014 11:26 pm

Hi. My daughter has a 504 and we live in California. She was diagnosed with A.D.D. when she was 5 and has had a 504 since then. She will be a senior in high school this year. The English department lacks the 504 skill, understanding and ability to work with my daughter. It has been difficult. Last year the teacher said she was teaching multi-sensory and modifying assignments/tests. But she was unable to produce such accommodations when asked. Instead sent me a letter on fancy letter head with verbiage from her 504.… Read more »

07/30/2014 5:00 am

If you like to abuse children just a get a job as a teacher of the disabled . It’s legal then it seems . Ask any parent of autistic student. More often than not untrained bully’s called teachers have abused the majority of them . The abuse is unchecked and rampant. And protected by your taxpayer dollars paying for their lawyers. Plus they will pay you to abuse them .

08/01/2014 11:14 am

Dawn: It is obvious you are upset and frustrated, perhaps as a direct result of something happening to your child at school. I’m sorry for what your child and you have experienced. But it is unfair and unrealistic to generalize that all teachers are bullyers or abusers.

As difficult as it might be to turn your Emotions to Advocacy, outcomes will be better if you do. There is a nationwide advocacy effort to end abuse and restraint and bullying in schools. Read the information, articles, and resources on these pages and think about what steps you… Read more »

06/22/2014 9:35 pm

When my daughter was in second grade I was going through a divorce. Her second grade teacher had a son that was representing my now ex husband in the divorce. A long time teacher began making comments to my second grader. When they drew a picture of their homes she told my daughter that she would not be able to keep living our house and told her draw a picture of a mobile home and told her she will have to move. The teacher also made derogatory comments to my daughter about me. Her husband at the time was a… Read more »

mad mom
06/12/2014 2:44 pm

My son is at the end of second grade and has been bullied by his teacher most of the school year. Back in october they told me he was acting out and trying toleave the classroom. They put you in a very warm padded room and lock the door on bad kids. I met with the school, the teacher the principal, the school shrink and social. Ive been to so many meetings ive used all my vaction time. I believed them when they said it was my sons fault. I took priveledges away from him at home, grounded him, moved… Read more »

05/23/2014 12:20 pm

My daughter has ADHD and is under an IEP in High School. Yesterday her IEP Case Manager threatened her and belittled her while she was in class. She forgot to return an assessment he asked for and came in her class very upset. He said things like, “after you poop in the morning, do you need your mom to remind you to wipe”, and, “Well, I guess I will just have to “forget” that you signed up for summer school”. And this case manager is the Coach of the High School football team. I want… Read more »

05/20/2014 1:50 pm

The sad reality is school is a business. As a parent if you approach administrators with these difficulties, they will much rather verbally appease you and do nothing, rather than taking on the teachers union. The only way to seek results is with a threat against their purse strings, using a lawyer and threats of civil action.

If a peace officer were to violate someones civil rights, under the color of the authority offered the position, It would violate 42 U.S.C. § 1983. There is much attention given to “bad” police that abuse their authority, yet… Read more »

05/13/2014 2:02 am

My son attends a prestigious private school who is known for its arrogance. A teacher in highschool has told my son in class with peers that he is the laziest person he knows. He has told him, he will fail in his chosen career of business. He has told a student in the class that he would fail my son. When my son asked him to stop giving him “xxxx”, he challenged my son to get out of his seat and tell it to his face. He and 4 other staff members berated my son… Read more »

05/14/2014 9:56 pm

Kimberly: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) ensures that parents have access to their children’s educational records and to protect the privacy rights of parents and children by limiting access to these records without parental consent.

Have you documented your concerns in writing to the teacher / school administration? Have you requested a meeting to discuss your concerns?

05/03/2014 12:07 pm

I am a teacher and have never been accused of bullying until last year from a parent who has a history of accusing her child’s teachers of bullying. Simply put asking the student multiple times to open a book, even nicely, to this parent is bullying. What should the penalty be for parents like that?
The danger is also parent like that diminish the credibility of parents who have legitimate complaints of teacher bullying.

11/09/2015 7:19 pm

Welcome to the world of parents, where we have to worry, just like you do now.

1 2 3